Ashes 2005: Third Test Old Trafford

England v Australia, Third Test, Old Trafford, 11-15 August 2005
England 444 and 280 for 6 dec, Australia 302 and 371 for 9
Match drawn.


Day One:
The Old Grey Trafford Test

They don’t make cricket balls like they used to. Only seven days after Glenn McGrath trod on one in pre-match training at Edgbaston, he is back in action for Australia in the Third Test at Old Trafford. Brett Lee has also had a miracle cure, so there’s no room for (a) Mike Kasprowicz (b) Shaun Tait (c) Stuart Clark (d) Stuart MacGill (e) all of the above.

Michael Vaughan won the toss and elected to bat. Half an hour into the first session, England are 19 without loss. The burning question of the day is: who will be Warnie’s Number 600?

Live audio, as usual, at BBC Five Live Extra. Anand Vasu’s ball-by-ball text commentary at CricInfo. James Dart is at the OBO desk for The Guardian. Among blogs, Prem Panicker’s Sightscreen has clocked up 21 comments for Day One already. Corridor of Uncertainty is up to 17 comments, and Will still can’t spell “beleive” 🙂

Day one: It was Trescothick it was 2

Poor old Marcus likes being on the receiving end of a milestone, doesn’t he? First he was Glenn McGrath’s 500th Test wicket, now he is Shane Warne’s 600th – and with the very same dismissal, Adam Gilchrist’s 300th as wicketkeeper.

Aye, six hundred – when I were a lad you only needed 300 wickets for a world record. I can recall vivdly, back in February 1976, Ian Redpath getting out to Lance Gibbs at the MCG and then walking up the pitch to shake the Guyanese offie’s hand for being his 308th Test victim, taking him one clear of Frederick Seward Trueman.

Almost six years later, Dennis Lillee pushed past Gibbs with wicket number 310. In those days, there were six Test entities. Now there are ten. It’s not even eighteen months since Warne and Muralitharan broke the 500 mark almost in tandem in pursuit of Courtney Walsh’s 519.

Seven hundred for Warne? It’s hard to see why he couldn’t keep playing till forty as long as he keeps away from the women and his mum’s pill cabinet.

Oh, and Michael Vaughan scored 166 on Thursday. Adulation from Mike SelveyDerek Pringle and James Lawton. Wisden CricInfo’s pompously-titled Bulletin of the day’s play by Jenny Thompson. (Hmm, so that’s why they don’t have a correspondent for the latter stages of the Hove Test.)

Midwinter-Midwinter points for Day One at Old Trafford: 3 pts – Michael Vaughan; 2 pts – Marcus Trescothick; 1 pt – Ian Bell.

Day two: Giles spins ball shock

If Shane Warne is the Don Juan of world cricket, is Ashley Giles the Juan Carlos?

While the morning belonged to the Sheikh of Tweak, the Sultan of Spin, the afternoon belonged to the King of Spain, Prince Wheelie bin Giles. (Dammit, I should be writing for WWE.) The hyper-testosteroned English media are calling His Ashliness’ dismissal of Damien Martyn “the ball of the century”. In Ashley Giles’ case, it probably will be his best ball of the century (and of the last one).

Martin Johnson dissects the ball at great length in the Telegraph.

As if the inconsistency of the Australian batting is bad enough, Michael Clarke has a dicky back. And going into Saturday, Australia needs 35 to avoid the follow-on, three wickets in hand, after England made a two-thirds demonic 444.

Midwinter-Midwinter points for Day Two: 3 pts – Ashley Giles; 2 pts – Shane Warne; 1 pt – Simon Jones.

One hundred and twenty-one years ago, a grand tradition began at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground, Manchester. It was on July 10, 1884 that the first Test match on that ground began. July 10, 1884 was also the first time in an Old Trafford Test that a whole day’s play would be washed out.

August 13, 2005 didn’t quite reach those dizzy heights of emptiness. Players got onto the field at 4pm for eight overs – during which time Australia avoided the follow-on – and then went off again. At 6.10pm they returned and played six more overs while millions of Channel 4 viewers anxiously awaited their evening news, and the spectators at the ground began calculating how many beers they could buy with their 50 per cent refund on the day’s admission.

Highlight of the day was the naming of the best fancy dress in the crowd, going to the half a dozen or so Fred Flintstones. Fittingly, their prize was presented by Barney Rubble lookalike Mike Gatting.

Midwinter-Midwinter points for Day Three: only fourteen overs bowled, so 1 pt to Shane Warne. (Midwinter, incidentally, top scored for Australia in that 1884 Test with 37.)

Day four: Look who’s losing

It’s not so much that Australia appear all set to lose the Third Test tomorrow. It’s the reports that suggest the whole fibre of the mighty Australian team is unravelling. Or are we witnessing more Sledging By Media?

Or could it be that the Australian eleven is just too damn old? Can you believe that Damien Martyn played his first Test match nearly thirteen years ago? Or that only two players in the Old Trafford eleven have made their Test debuts in the 21st century? Or that the only player who wasn’t born for The Underarm Incident has been revealed to have a chronic back ailment?

Compare that to an England side which has one player both (a) celebrating, at Old Trafford, seven years since his Test debut and (b) having attained the pensionable age of 32. Guess which Large Garbage Receptacle/Iberian Monarch I’m talking about.

Australia needs 399 on the last day, 423 in all, to win this Test. That won’t happen. One wonders, however, if this Australian side has the ticker to bat all day for a draw. I’m predicting they won’t, and my pre-series forecast of England winning two Tests will come true.

Midwinter-Midwinter points for Day four: 3 pts – Andrew Strauss; 2 pts – Simon Jones; 1 pt – Ian Bell.

Day five: Is this a great series or what?

Incredible to think Australia saved the Third Test. Great stuff. It’s remarkable enough to score 371 runs in the fourth innings of a Test – even if the target is 423. Poor Harmison made a mess of the last over. One of Ponting’s finest innings. Not much support from the specialist batsmen however, though the draw looked hopeful while ever Michael Clarke was out there. It should have been England’s Test once Ponting was gone. Full credit to Warne, Lee and McGrath. Enjoy the rest of the tour, Diz.

It’s almost 4am, but before I crash out at the keyboard, the link to James Dart’s OBO of the final session at The Guardian, and my Midwinter-Midwinters for Day Five: 3 pts – Ricky Ponting; 2 pts – Andrew Flintoff; 1 pt – Shane Warne.

I think I can already declare this the best Ashes series in my living memory, and that stretches back to 1970-71. On that note, good night.

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